Becoming U.S.: Language and Assimilation

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Becoming U.S.: Language and Assimilation

Wednesday, 6/6/18
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Event Type

Lecture/Panel Discussion
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
1300 Locust Street
19107 Philadelphia , PA

An Immigrant Heritage Month Program

Even though English isn't the official language of the United States, knowing the language—or not—makes a difference in how someone navigates all the ins and outs of life in this country, from transportation to healthcare to civic engagement.

During this program we will consider how language acquisition affects life outcomes, both from our moderator, sociology professor Dr. Faye Allard-Glass of the Community College of Philadelphia, and from a panel of speakers:

  • Dr. Carol Labor came to the U.S. from Sierra Leone when she was a small child. While she speaks English fluently, her first language was Krio. Drawing from her experiences with bullying and PTSD, she now dedicates her work to helping students, founding programs such as literacy workshops, Schools Without Borders, and the Million Books Project.
  • Dana M. Pirone, Esq., is an attorney with the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the District II Office located in Trooper, PA. She is a first-generation Italian-American. Pirone’s extended family immigrated from a small mountain town in southern Italy to Princeton, New Jersey.
  • Rafaela Colón, a community resident and activist, has played an active role in the political development of the Puerto Rican Latino community in Philadelphia. She is a founding member of Taller Puertorriqueño and currently serves as a member of its board. Colón, now retired, was the special assistant to the president and CEO of ASPIRA Inc. of Pennsylvania. She came to New Jersey and Philadelphia from Puerto Rico as a child.

Join us and share your own experiences!

Come early to see the document display Language, Immigration, and Assimilation. Refreshments will be served at the program’s conclusion.

A teacher workshop will be offered 5:30-8:30 the same evening that will enrich the program with suggestions for how to teach this subject in class.  

About Becoming U.S.

Becoming U.S. is a series of programs launched by HSP in fall 2016 to encourage sharing across ethnicity, race, and citizenship status. We want to hear and learn from each other about the human endeavor of transition and settlement. Through civic dialogue, we wish to personalize stories often presented in the media in only the broadest of strokes, to foster a mutual respect and renewed appreciation for the histories of all Philadelphians. 

Starting with Dutch, Swedish, and English settlers in the 1600s, the Greater Philadelphia Area has been inhabited by wave after wave of immigrants. Many are drawn to the area for personal or familial reasons, while others are fleeing their homes out of political or economic necessity. They arrive documented, under-documented, or undocumented. Regardless of classification, immigrants' contributions are integral to Philadelphia's culture and history. 

Philadelphia has always boasted a diverse population, and continues to do so. According to the Brookings Institution, “Among its peer regions, metropolitan Philadelphia has the largest and fastest growing immigrant population, which now stands at over 500,000, comprising 9 percent of the total population.”

Behind these sterile statistics lay vivid, individual experiences detailing the human endeavor of transition and settlement: struggles with assimilation, trials in maintaining cultural identity, and perhaps – finally – success in calling Philadelphia “home."

Pictured: Residents in Philadelphia's Chinatown read the United China Relief War Bulletin. From the Philadelphia Record photograph morgue.